For a Better Brisbane

Review: Perth’s Rail Revolution

Freeways are now fair game for retrofitting Public Transport infrastructure such as LRT, BRT and Rail. Image: 'Perth infrastructure' by Flickr user Phillip C

The BrisUrbane Blog has found slide presentations about Perth’s Rail Revolution and further details about the Perth system written by Peter Martinovich, who was the Deputy Project Director for the NewMetroRail project. There’s some good material for those interested in the finer details about the project;

Application of a Commuter Railway to Low Density Settlement, Peter Martinovich, Public Transport Authority of WA.

The first slide in the presentation compares Perth to ‘a comparable Australian city’. It is plain to see the enormous turnaround in patronage once the rail system was upgraded, modernised and extended. Perth’s patronage can be checked at any time using this link. Recently TransPerth have begun giving line by line breakdowns of patronage, patronage on the trains are now heading for 56 million boardings.

Slide 10 shows the arrival modes at the train stations. Bus brings in about a third to half of all passengers and car brings in roughly the other half. Walk up patronage is about 500 or less per day, which is tiny. The planning team defended the use of Park and Ride at stations stating that it was necessary for adaptions of a rail service to low density areas and that overall it was only 2% of the total project cost, but brought in 50% of the patronage.

Slide 12 shows the challenge of car dependancy- Perth has 10.7 meters of road per person, which is more road per capita than Sydney, Melbourne, the Australian average or the US average. Slide 24 shows how they calculated the projected boardings from land density, population and trip making rates. It’s worthwhile highlighting the density of this area; the average dwelling density is given as 10 dwellings per hectare on which TransPerth runs frequent trains every 15 minutes. In comparison, Brisbane’s TransLink considers a basic bus service viable at densities of 7 dwellings per hectare. That’s what seamless integration can do, 90% of the patronage comes from outside the walk-up zone around stations.

Perth’s low density settlement, limits numbers who walk to a train station, to a max of 500 daily.

– slide 20,  Bus-rail and car-rail integration to collect patronage had to be used because walk up patronage alone could not support the line.

Slide 26 shows the types of bus-rail interchanges deployed in Perth. Murdoch has a specially constructed busway overpass where passengers are dropped off and then walk down to the platforms. Warwick has a bus interchange on stilts positioned directly above the rail station, and both are smack bang in the middle of a freeway (sounds crazy doesn’t it?; but it works!) Clarkson and Cockburn are interesting because it seems that TOD development has been stimulated.

Slide 27 shows the TOD paradox.  They could use the park and ride area around the station for TOD or Park and Ride but only at the cost of the other. They reasoned that the park and ride was a better land use because it would allow TOD to occur outside the walk-up zone; It shows that they realised that a ‘cut and paste TOD job’ would not work under the conditions at hand and the TOD idea would have to be  adapted. Again, tight integration would allow TOD to happen further away from the station.

Note that for a TOD we need and absolute minimum population of 10,000 within walking distance of the station to yield up to 700 daily walk-ons

– Slide 31;

There was just no way 10,000 people were going to be within 800 meters of the station. Integration had to be used, and TOD around stations would have to come after.

In conclusion, a number of innovations are clear as is a willingness to think against and question prevailing ideas. A full-blown frequent rail service has been supported on low density. Stations have been spaced further apart to increase speed and cut rolling stock requirements. The train line has been put down the middle of a freeway, which is quite radical, and all stops have been pulled out to make sure integration (like placing an interchange on stilts above the station in the middle of a freeway). Even the philosophy of TODs being accessed only by walking has been turned upside down and a case for the value of park and rides has been made (which are often frowned upon).

Perth’s legacy isn’t just a great train service. It’s a legacy of creativity and innovation that will all make us rethink what’s possible with low density.

Application of a Commuter Railway to Low Density Settlement, Peter Martinovich, Public Transport Authority of WA.


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February 17, 2011 at 10:32 pm

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